Passive with modal verbs

CA66

 

Modal verbs do not have a passive voice types, however, they can be combined with a passive infinitive of a full verb. The differentiation between personal and impersonal passive applies also to modal verbs.

 

Example for the personal passive:

 

active   passive
  modal verb   + active infinitive   modal verb + passive infinitive
Der Mechaniker muss den Motor reparieren. Der Motor muss repariert werden.

 

The following changes take place:

 

  The subject of the active voice sentence is not mentioned in the passive voice sentence.*
  In the active voice, the modal verb governs the active infinitive; in the passive voice, it governs the passive infinitive.
  The accusative object of the active voice sentence becomes the subject of the passive voice sentence.

 

* The subject of the active voice sentence can be mentioned in the passive voice sentence by using a prepositional phrase introduced by the prepositions von or durch. The indefinite pronoun man is an exception; it cannot be mentioned as an agent in the passive voice sentence when it is the subject of the active voice sentence.


CA66A

 

Example for the impersonal passive:

 

active   passive
  modal verb     + active infinitive   modal verb     + passive infinitive
Die Kinder müssen den Eltern im Haushalt helfen Es muss den Eltern im Haushalt geholfen werden.
          Den Eltern muss im Haushalt geholfen werden.
          Im Haushalt muss den Eltern geholfen werden.

 

The following changes take place:

 

  The subject of the active voice sentence is not mentioned in the passive voice sentence.*
  In the active voice, the modal verb governs the active infinitive; in the passive voice, it governs the passive infinitive.
  Dative, genitive and prepositional objects of the active voice sentence retain their function in the passive voice sentence.
  Adverbial complements in the active voice sentence retain their function in the passive voice sentence.
  If the active voice sentence has no accusative object, the word "es" becomes the subject of the passive voice sentence. However, if another constituent of the sentence occupies the first position, "es" must be omitted and is not mentioned in the sentence.

 

* The subject of the active voice sentence can be mentioned in the passive voice sentence by using a prepositional phrase introduced by the prepositions von or durch. The indefinite pronoun man is an exception; it cannot be mentioned as an agent in the passive voice sentence when it is the subject of the active voice sentence.